tv [untitled] July 29, 2011 12:30pm-1:00pm PDT
>> hello and welcome to "meet your district supervisor." we're here with supervisor elsbernd from district 7. supervisor elsbernd was appointed to the board in august of 2004 and elected to his seat in november of that year. he is in the middle of his second term. we will get to know him and learn about the toughest issues facing the city. welcome. tell us about your background. >> i was born and raised in district 7. i went to st. cecilia's grammar school. i went to a small school in los
angeles and came back here to teach law school. -- went to lost cool. i went to work here immediately after passing the bar on the first try. i worked at city hall for a few years. then lightning struck and was appointed as a member of the board of supervisors in august of 2004. i have been here ever since. the choice to live in san francisco was made for my family about five generations ago. we have been here a very long time. i could never imagine leaving. this is home. this is where i am raising my son and hope that he raises his children. >> what motivated you to get into politics? >> i attribute a lot of it to the jesuit credo to be men and women for others.
there is the idea that the best way to service through the political process. i have a love for the law. i found a way to combine that with service through the political process. i have always been intrigued by it and the opportunity to present themselves well. >> where do you place yourself on the local political spectrum? >> i do not like labels like left or right. most people would call me in moderate. >> what did you learn campaigning for supervisor? was there anything that surprised you? >> in my first election, the personal side of the campaign -- i did not appreciate the thick skin you need as a candidate. being a candidate is not the easiest thing in the world. i have come to really appreciate
my opponents. while i may disagree with them on policy, they are stepping into the arena and that says a lot about themselves. you really have to respect anybody that does that. >> what are some of the biggest issues facing san francisco now? >> the single most important issue is the budget. whether your concern as homelessness, transportation, parks, public health -- fundamentally, it comes down to how much money we have and how we will spend it. looking forward, unfortunately it is getting worse. the amount of money we are spending is far outpacing the amount of money coming in. getting our hands around that and how we will bring that into line is the biggest challenge. >> what about the biggest issues facing your district? >> biggest issue right now and
for potentially decades to come is parker said -- park merced. the owners have proposed demolishing half of the units and building 8000 new ones over the course of the next 25 to 30 years. that is a significant change for the district and the region. it is right there on the corner of california highway one. whether or not the project moves forward and if it does, how the city and region grapple with the growth is probably the biggest challenge of the district. >> how will you balance the needs of the city against the needs of your district? >> that is the biggest challenge for any representative, whether it is a local supervisor, assemblyperson, or congressional representative.
it is important that i keep in the back of my head that i sit on the city and county board of supervisors. there is a responsibility to the city as a whole. there is no easy way to balance it. you deal with those issued by issue. >> the city is faced with tough budget decisions, including where to make cuts and whether to raise taxes and fees. how will you approach the difficult choices? >> i think the biggest challenge in the budget is the cost associated a city employee pensions and benefits. those are the single biggest driver to our expenses, far exceeding our revenues. i have a single-minded focus dealing with that. for the last few months. we have been sitting down with our various public employee unions trying to come together on a way to balance the city's
needs versus respecting the rights of the employees. if we are able to come to some sort of agreement and present the voters in november with a fair proposal, that will address a lot of the smaller budget issues. we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. on pension and benefits alone, we will be spending just shy of 1 million -- $1 billion. that was with a b. if we can get a handle on that, some of the other issues will stand down. >> do you feel like we're on the right track? >> we are on the right track. it is february. we're where we should be in february. the difficult decisions come in june and july. hopefully we will still be on the right track when we get there. >> are there any milestones established?
>> a big one will be in the middle of march. we will get cost analysis from the retirement system on proposals out there. we will be gauging people's reactions to those numbers as a key market. the first couple of weeks of may will be important. that is when various proposals will be introduced in these chambers for the november ballot. june and july is when the board will vote on what goes in front of the electorate in november. those are the key milestones. >> talk about homelessness and how you are planning to deal with that as an issue. >> the key there is funding. everything gets back to that issue. we have a number of wonderful plans in place on how to address the homeless issue. we just cannot afford to. we continue to cut funding to shelters, public health programs
that help our homeless population. if we were able to do what we have in place and fund that, we would be a better position on that issue. >> are there any specific programs with respect to homelessness that you feel are moving us in the right direction? >> the watershed moment was 2002 when gavin newsom passed care not cash. it turned things around and forced the city to think more about housing. that was a key movement in the right direction. >> let's talk about housing needs and what you think the board of supervisors should do. >> i was asked about this but a friend i grew up with who now lives in the peninsula. i was fortunate enough that i grew up in the district was able to afford in the district. the vast majority of the friends
i grew up with in the neighborhood cannot stay in san francisco. we are really becoming a city that is either for the very rich or very poor. the middle class is losing out. that is the issue of one to focus the board on. addressing it is looking at projects like the park merced project with an open mind and consider how many middle-class units it will create. there's also the transportation impact of the project. what about the dislocation of the existing tenants? we have to value these things in a different way the we have in the past. >> let's talk about transportation. let's revisit the impact of some of the housing projects on
transportation. >> in my district, let's go back to the park merced project. 19th avenue is a mess. there is no easy way to get north-south on the west side. imagine putting 10,000 people right there at the corner of 19th and holloway. it will not make things easier unless there is significant transportation improvements as part of the project. we need to do what we can on the capital side. i would also point to work we were able to accomplish last year in bringing efficiencies to the way we negotiate bus driver contracts through the passage of proposition g. the great deal of savings will result from that. those dollars will go to improve operations. >> what about parking and traffic? is it safe for pedestrians? >> i do not think there is a
block in the district that i have not heard from one resident who has asked for a speed bump or stop sign. it is all in the eye of the beholder, particularly if you live there it is just not safe. that says a lot about what we need to do in terms of enforcement. we have great loss on the book. but if they're not getting in forced, -- we have great laws on the book, but if they're not getting in forced. we need to improve that area. >> let's talk about crime. how do you think the police department is doing? how do you think the city is addressing the issue of crime? >> the way we have been handling it is a marked improvement from where we were 10 years ago. the notion of community policing is instilled within the department.
talking to the merchants associations and neighborhood groups, i felt that the connections between those organizations and the police is vastly improved. that provides a sense of safety. it is almost the same as a foot patrol officer walking the beat. knowing that you can contact your captain or surgeon and they will be responsive is a critical piece of the notion of well being and being safe. our department has done a very good job on that over the last few years. >> the governor has proposed eliminating funding for redevelopment agencies. what do you think of that plan and the value of redevelopment agencies? >> redevelopment agencies have been very successful. golden gateway, treasure island, bayview. there is no question about it. they have been very beneficial. that said, i have a tremendous amount of respect for the very
difficult position governor brown finds himself in. i am not as familiar with the state budget as the local budget. i think the state budget to any casual observer is absolutely broken. it will take radical changes like what the governor is proposing. when the state government gets fixed, whether it is redevelopment or some other local important piece, san francisco will get hurt. there is no way to fix that problem without hurting san francisco and every other city and county in the state. the state has been far outspending what it should. it will come home to roost in the next couple of years. >> was talk about the city's economic development and whether we are on the right track. if we are not, let's talk about the right steps to take. >> i think we're on the right
track. the key is recognizing it. san francisco decades ago was home to the fantastic manufacturing industry and specialized service industry. we have to think of san francisco 30 years from now and try to prepare ourselves for the new economies. i do think biotech will be a key piece. information technology, can we be the hub of that? we have to address our payroll tax, land use decisions. we have to put in place a conducive atmosphere to attracting those economies. when we do that, it helps with our basic budget. it helps develop jobs. there is a lot we can do to catch the new economy. >> is there anything the city needs to do in changing its current approach to economic
development to facilitate these ideas? >> the payroll tax. we are taxing employers on how many jobs they create. that seems counterproductive. we want to encourage people to create jobs. i do not think asking employers to pay a tax on how many they create makes sense. i think addressing that would be a wise move. >> talk about sports. are you happy with the america's cup? do we need to be spending money on the 49 years? >> the america's cup will be fantastic. i was thrilled to support that. and was very involved in bringing the presidents cup. that is the top 12 u.s. golfers and top 12 international golfers coming to district 7. the giants world championship, what that did for san francisco
translated into spending money. that was a good thing for our economy. in terms of the forty-niners, i am not convinced we need to spend money to keep them here. i have a strong suspicion of the supposed to deal in santa clara is a house of cards. we have a great program for them all set up with a new lennar development at candlestick park. i think they will recognize that and come back. >> was there anything magical that happened in your district as a result of the world series? >> i imagine there were a lot of districts in district 7 he sat and cried when they watched the celebration like i did. i think those are the magical moments. a lot of parents and children region that whole week of the world series was one i will never forget, particularly the day of the parade.
it was not just my district. that was a magical time for this region. >> in your regdistrict, deal have any particular projects to give us insight on? >> one was a basic infrastructure thing that was a big deal. san francisco circle. not a lot of people realize that more cars travel through one of those intersections than any other in san francisco. we had to shut that down and completely rebuild the intersection for the muni winds utilities, and overheads. we pulled it off. we got through it. now we have pedestrians walking through safely. we have the trains going through. it is cleaner, faster, safer. vehicles can get through there. it is a small thing, but quality of life when you do not have to
deal with a bus stuck in the intersection -- that was a big deal. i am proud of the way the mta got through the major project without causing major problems. >we have lots of park improvements happening that will definitely benefit our youth. playgrounds the within the last few years have been renovated. for the entire community, a suspected is the young people that benefit best. >> talk about the merchant district and some of the things that will be important for the development of local businesses in san francisco. >> the two key ones in district 7 are west portal and ocean avenue.
ocean avenue straddles the border between districts 7 and 11. both of them are like two spines of small business. i go back to payroll tax. it inhibits small business growth. we do need to do something about that. streamlining the permit process and reaching out to our small businesses and doing all that we can to demystify the red tape that city hall often places on this. >> are there any out which activities in your district better working well? >> i was with the west portal merchants yesterday morning. i think it is my job to be as responsive to the businesses in the district as it is to be to the constituents. i am the face of city hall. i need to be accessible, open, and responsive. i can help clear up a lot of the red tape for them.
>> is there anything particularly special about serving in the district where you grew up that informs some of the things you take on us supervisor? >> it is very special. one example i like to cite is 18th avenue. there is a restaurant called the gold mirror. i went to school with the chef when we were seven. he said that it was too unsafe for the customers. i got a stop sign in there for him. being able to do little things like that for people i grew up with -- i know that intersection. i probably cost it many times myself. having the background knowledge and being able to do something like, is a wonderful thing to be able to do. >> are there any other issues of concern we have not discussed ayet that you want to chat abou?
>> in the end, it all comes down to budget. i hate to be focused on such a bad issue. but whether your issues parks, public health, transportation -- in the end it is all about budget. that is what i will be focusing on. >> it looks like we are out of time. we will have to wrap this up. thank you so much for joining us today on "meet your district supervisor." we have been speaking with supervisor elsbernd. we will be back next time with another one of our supervisors. ♪